Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health      

kidsdata advisory

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health | September 10, 2014

Only on kidsdata: Latest, most local data on homeless students in California

Nearly 270,000 public school students in Calif. were homeless at some point in the 2012-2013 school year, according to new data released by the California Homeless Youth Project and available only on That equates to about 4% of all California’s public school students—double the national average. California accounted for just over one-fifth of all homeless public school students in the U.S. that school year.

See Homeless Student Data by County and School District>>

In some California counties, more than 10% of public school students experienced homelessness during the school year. More than half of these students were in grades pre-K through 5. Older homeless students can be more difficult to identify because they may not make their status known due to fear of contact with law enforcement, child protective services, and/or reunification with parents/guardians.

The new data, which are available by grade level, nighttime residence and, for the first time, by legislative district, shed light on California's homeless students through 12th grade as categorized by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law that defines a student as homeless if he or she lacks a "fixed, regular, and adequate" nighttime residence at any point during the school year. This includes temporary or unstable housing arrangements such as motels, homeless shelters or staying with others due to loss of housing or economic hardship.

Homelessness is one of the most traumatic experiences a child can face. Young homeless children are more likely than their stably housed peers to suffer from serious mental and behavioral health problems, have developmental delays, confront academic challenges, and experience poor physical health.

Homelessness among California's public school students is growing. The number of homeless students increased about 22% between the 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 school years, from 220,708 to 269,663 students, at a time when overall public school enrollment remained flat.

See Homeless Student Data in Your Community

Get More Information on Homeless Students in California

Issue Brief: California’s Homeless Students: A Growing Population (PDF)
California Homeless Youth Project

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about California's Homeless Students (PDF) and California Homeless Youth Project

Helpful Links

California Homeless Youth Project, California State Library, California Research Bureau, State of California
Child Trends: Homeless Children and Youth
Forty to None Project
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY)
National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE)
National Center on Family Homelessness
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
National Network for Youth
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

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Homeless Public School Students (2013)

Homeless Public School Students (2013) Mascots is a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation of Children's Health, which uses data to promote the health and well being of children.
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